Armed men abduct soldier in Surigao Norte town

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 January) — A soldier belonging to the 30th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army was abducted by armed men believed to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Alegria town in Surigao del Norte Sunday afternoon, the commanding officer of the 30th IB said.

Lt. Col. Rico Amaro, 30th IB commander, said Pfc Erwin Salan was leading a group in a cleanliness drive with the youth in a local tourist destination in Barangay Budlingin, Alegria at around 3 p.m. when a group of armed men flagged them down.

“Salan was forcibly tied and taken by NPA rebels,” Amaro said in a text message to MindaNews.

Since the government and National Democratic Front (NDF) each declared a unilateral ceasefire in August 2016, there has been no armed confrontation between the troops and communist guerillas in Surigao del Norte.

Ka Oto, spokesperson of Guerilla Force 16 of the NPA operating in Surigao del Norte said he cannot confirm the abduction as yet. “I’ll contact our unit operating in that concerned area,” he said,

As of Sunday evening,  the NDF and NPA has not issued a statement confirming if, indeed, they had taken Salan.

On July 10, 2014, four police officers were captured by the NPA during a raid in a town police station. They were freed after 19 days in captivity.

On November 16, 2014, two police officers in Alegria town were seized by NPA rebels.

After three months in captivity, PO3 Democrito B. Polvorosa and PO1 Marichel U. Contemplo along with PO1 Jorie Amper from Malimono town were turned over to then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in February 2015 in the hinterlands of Gigaquit town in Surigao del Norte.

The government and the NDF concluded its third round of the formal peace talks on January 25 in Rome.

Both  panels signed ground rules to speed up discussion  on social and economic reforms.

The Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reforms or CASER is seen to address poverty and give solution to the ongoing armed conflict in the country.

The fourth round of formal talks will be held in April in Oslo, Norway. But the panels’ ceasefire committees will meet in the Netherlands next month to determine fi they can forge a bilateral ceasefire. (Roel Catoto / MindaNews)